This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Those entering lineups for Saturday's card have much tighter odds to deal with in recent memory, which makes for a different DFS strategy than recent events. Check out our breakdowns below if you're looking to get a shot at the $25,000 top prize in Saturday's $15 MMA Throwdown.
If you're hoping to turn the event into an opportunity to build your DFS bankroll, DraftKings.com has you covered with a full slate of contests. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
(Please note that DraftKings altered their scoring system in December 2016 to add a new fighter to the lineup and adjust scoring. The most recent point values are listed below.)
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Advance (ADVC): +3 PT
Takedown (TD): +5 PTS
Reversal/Sweep (REV): +5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +10 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses
1st Round Win (1rW+): +90 PTS
2nd Round Win (2rW+): +70 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rW+): +45 PTS
4th Round Win (4rW+): +40 PTS
5th Round Win (5rW+): +40 PTS
Decision Win (WBD+): +30 PTS
Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
Advances include: To Half Guard, To Side Control, To Mount, To Back Control
Now, on to the fights...
Main Event - Welterweight
Rafael dos Anjos (29-11-0) v. Leon Edwards (17-3-0)
DK Salaries: dos Anjos ($7,900), Edwards ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: dos Anjos (+100), Edwards (-120)
Odds to Finish: +130
With the UFC in scramble mode to find a main event for this card on the big ESPN, this fight came together in short order just over a month ago. It will serve as a title eliminator at 170 pounds.
Dos Anjos is coming off an impressive submission win over Kevin Lee in a main event spot in May. The fight was even in the early going before Lee badly gassed out and RDA took full advantage. It was a victory dos Anjos badly needed on the heels of back-to-back losses to current UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman and former Interim UFC Welterweight Champion Colby Covington. Dos Anjos' lack of size (5-foot-8) makes him less interesting at 170 pounds than he was at lightweight, but he's talented enough to impact the title picture in the higher weight class.
On a seven-fight win streak and with his only loss in the past four-plus years coming against Usman, Edwards has quickly developed the reputation of being one of the sport's most underrated fighters. The UFC continues to put quality opponents in front of him (Donald Cerrone, Gunnar Nelson, etc.) and Edwards just keeps rolling through them. Competent in all areas, the biggest issue with Edwards is the lack of stopping power in his hands. Four of his past five wins have come via decision, and sooner or later the inability to finish your competition will come back to bite you.
This will be Edwards's first fight in the United States since the Usman loss in December 2015. It's a trivial fact that seems unlikely to matter much, but it's something to keep an eye on. This fight projects to be as close as the Vegas odds indicate. On a card in which I like very few underdogs, I'm going to take RDA in a mild upset. As good as Edwards has been for the past several years, I'm just worried that his inability to stop his opposition will come back to haunt him, especially against a savvy veteran like RDA.
THE PICK: dos Anjos
Co-Main Event - Heavyweight
Aleksei Oleinik (57-12-1) v. Walt Harris (12-7-0)
DK Salaries: Oleinik ($7,500), Harris ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Oleinik (+125), Harris (-145)
Odds to Finish: -675
Oleinik and Harris were set to meet in May before an unfortunate set of circumstances led to the cancellation of the bout. Oleinik stepped in as a late notice replacement against Alistair Overeem instead and lost via first-round knockout.
Now 42 years old and with 70 (!!!!!) professional bouts under his belt, Oleinik just keeps on ticking. He fights often and fairly effectively (4-2 in last six bouts) for such an aging fighter. Oleinik's grappling achievements are well known. He has 45 career wins via submission and can catch his opponents in a variety of different ways. Oleinik isn't a great athlete and doesn't move exceptionally well, but he will make you pay if you give him an opening.
Harris is essentially the polar opposite of Oleinik. He's an exceptional athlete with remarkable explosiveness and power, but zero ground game to speak of. Harris's downfall has been a lack of consistency. He has never been able to put any sort of run together and has come up short every single time he's been tasked with facing better competition. I've been burned by Harris in the past. I'm a believer in the athleticism and I definitely think he's better than he has shown in his nearly six years with the company, but Harris is now 35 years old and you are what your record says you are in this sport.
Harris possess the raw athleticism to give Oleinik problems. Aleksei is much more effective in a slow-paced bout, and Harris moves remarkably well for a man his size. His DraftKings price tag is a bit hefty for my liking, but I think he wins. Oleinik has a difficult time in anything other than a mat battle and it's hard to project a submission win in any given fight.
THE PICK: Harris
James Vick (13-3-0) v. Dan Hooker (17-8-0)
DK Salaries: Vick ($7,700), Hooker ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Vick (+120), Hooker (-140)
Odds to Finish: -155
I'll tell you right now, this is going to be a tough one for me. Although Vick and Hooker are coming off disappointing losses, I remain high on the long-term potential of both men.
Vick needs this one more because he is coming off back-to-back setbacks. The competition he faced was exceptional (Paul Felder, Justin Gaethje), but no fighter who fancies himself a contender in perhaps the company's deepest division can afford a three-fight losing streak. Vick's struggles have come in the stand up game. He gets hit far too much for my liking and has limited finishing power in his hands. Vick's 6-foot-3 frame is a real asset for the 155-pound division, but he often doesn't fight like the bigger man.
A winner of four in a row and closing in on a title shot, Hooker was obliterated by Edson Barboza in December. He displayed superhuman toughness to last until the middle of Round 3. The average human being would have been stopped a good ten minutes sooner. I'm a believer in Hooker because I love the physicality which he fights with. He gets in there and he bullies his opposition into fighting his fight, even though he was unable to do that against another tough customer in Barboza.
While I like Vick, Hooker hits harder and he's more durable. It took countless monster shots for Edson to finish him off and I don't think Vick will be able to land that cleanly with that kind of regularity. I could see this being the kind of fight in which both men inflict their fair share of damage and this fight sees the final bell, but I like Hooker to land the cleaner, harder shots of the two men and take the decision.
THE PICK: Hooker
Ben Rothwell (36-11-0) v. Andrei Arlovski (27-18-0, 2NC)
DK Salaries: Rothwell ($9,000), Arlovski ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Rothwell (-185), Arlovski (+160)
Odds to Finish: -140
Rothwell returned from a three-year layoff with a unanimous decision setback against Blagoy Ivanov in March. He was gone for so long that I legitimately forgot he was still with the company. Rothwell's hiatus was mostly due to a two-year USADA suspension that was handed down due to a failed drug test. He spent a long time fighting that punishment, though he ultimately came up empty. Rothwell has legitimate power and a quality submission game, but it's fair to wonder how much he has left in the tank at this point. He hasn't won a fight since January 2016. The good news for Big Ben is that he is facing an opponent who has been clearly washed up for the past several years.
The UFC continues to run Arlovski out there for no apparent reason. Winless in his last four bouts (0-3, 1NC) and sporting a 2-8 record in his past 10 decisions dating back to January 2016, Arlovski has zero finishing power left in his hands and he's getting hit more than ever. The UFC's heavyweight division is not exactly overflowing with depth, but their fascination with "The Pit Bull" is baffling. Arlovski isn't athletic enough or mobile enough to win anything other than a brawl, and his last knockout win came well over four years ago. Arlovski turned 40 years old this past February.
Regardless of what you think about Rothwell moving forward, I'd be highly concerned and surprised if he didn't have enough gas left in the tank to defeat Arlovski. Rothwell is powerful and durable, and that's about all it takes to defeat the former UFC Heavyweight Champion these days. The fact Arlovski knocked out Ben in the first meeting between the two way back in July 2008 is irrelevant. These two men are in an extremely different place than the first time around. I would wager that the amount of heavyweights on the current UFC roster that Arlovski can defeat can be counted on one hand. Rothwell isn't one of them.
THE PICK: Rothwell
Greg Hardy (4-1-0) v. Juan Adams (5-1-0)
DK Salaries: Hardy ($8,100), Adams ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: Hardy (-110), Adams (-110)
Odds to Finish: -515
THE PICK: Adams
Alexander Hernandez (10-2-0) v. Francisco Trinaldo (23-6-0)
DK Salaries: Hernandez ($8,900), Trinaldo ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Hernandez (-185), Trinaldo (+160)
Odds to Finish: -120
THE PICK: Hernandez
Alex Caceres (14-12-0) v. Steven Peterson (17-8-0)
DK Salaries: Caceres ($8,800), Peterson ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Caceres (-160), Peterson (+140)
Odds to Finish: +145
THE PICK: Caceres
Raquel Pennington (9-7-0) v. Irene Aldana (10-4-0)
DK Salaries: Pennington ($7,800), Aldana ($8,400)
Vegas Odds: Pennington (+135), Aldana (-155)
Odds to Finish: +200
THE PICK: Pennington
Sam Alvey (33-12-0) v. Kidson Abreu (14-3-0)
DK Salaries: Alvey ($7,600), Abreu ($8.600)
Vegas Odds: Alvey (+140), Abreu (-160)
Odds to Finish: -160
THE PICK: Abreu
Roxanne Modafferi (23-15-0) v. Jennifer Maia (16-5-1)
DK Salaries: Modafferi ($8,000), Maia ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Modafferi (+100), Maia (-120)
Odds to Finish: +205
THE PICK: Modafferi
Ray Borg (11-4-0) v. Gabriel Silva (8-0-0)
DK Salaries: Borg ($9,300), Silva ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Borg (-235), Silva (+195)
Odds to Finish: +160
THE PICK: Borg
Mario Bautista (6-1-0) v. Jin Soo Son (9-3-0)
DK Salaries: Bautista ($7,100), Son ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Bautista (+170), Son (-200)
Odds to Finish: +140
THE PICK: Son
Felipe Corales (8-1-0) v. Domingo Pilarte (8-1-0)
DK Salaries: Corales ($6,800), Pilarte ($9,400)
Vegas Odds: Corales (+260), Pilarte (-320)
Odds to Finish: -110
THE PICK: Pilarte